Former Mayors Coalition Calls for Response from Toledo’s Current Mayor

Former Mayors Finkbeiner, Owens and Bell announcing the community forum

By Tricia Hall
The Truth Reporter

Several dozen north Toledo residents gathered at the Ohio Theater on Lagrange to discuss youth and gun violence on Monday, June 26. The group met with the Coalition for Peaceful Toledo Neighborhoods, which is comprised of former Toledo mayors Carty Finkbeiner, Mike Bell, Paula Hicks-Hudson and Donna Owens.

“We want to stay in touch with each other after this meeting. I’ve been to 13-14 different neighborhood meetings and this has the potential to be the best. There are so many good ideas here,” shared Finkbeiner.

The discussion and comments shared by residents in attendance included concerns about family dynamics, youth interaction, respect between youth and adults and lifestyle choices.

“These youth today need to learn respect and it starts in the home,” shared Ms. Brown, a long time north Toledo resident.

Former Mayor, State Senator Paula Hicks-Hudson speaks – Former Mayors Carty Finkbeiner, Mike Bell and Donna Ownes, seated

“It’s law enforcement too. Officers won’t come answer a call for two to three hours if there isn’t a weapon. I was a single parent when I was raising my children, there’s no excuse for single parents today, but parents raise children the way that they were raised. The youth don’t have protection these days and there’s nothing for the youth to do,” shared Ms. Williams, a long time north Toledo resident.

“The question is how do we collectively get our youth out of negative situations,” shared Alfonso Narvaez, a leader from One Village Council which is a community organization on the northside of Toledo.

The newly hired, City of Toledo Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement Malcolm Cunningham was in attendance and shared words with the coalition and residents. “I know you are passionate about these concerns and I thank you for having me here tonight. I’ve read the 12-point plan and some other neighborhood plans. There are some points that are outside of the city’s purview and the city may not be able to execute everything on every plan. There are a lot of plans out there. I’m willing to sit down with a working group to go through the 12-point plan,” shared Cunningham.

Since the former mayors’coalition was formed, they have met with various neighborhood groups throughout Toledo and recently met with the Director of the Department of Public Safety Andy Wilson to request information and resources to address gang violence, which is a safety concern raisediny several neighborhoods. The coalition shared these results from that meeting with the residents in attendance.

Carty Finkbeiner and Alfonso Narvaez

“There are grants available to support block watches and surveillance. We need to become a movement to wake up city hall. We have approached the Mayor and City Council but it fell on deaf ears. It’s not about them but about our kids and families,” shared former Mayor Donna Owens.

“When I was working with residents, an organizer was hired to connect residents to needs. It was done in Junction and the Eastside, it can be done here too. We need to begin to bring the state resources here to help our neighbors connect,” said Paula Hicks-Hudson, former Toledo City Council president, former mayor and current Ohio State Senator.

“We have to hold people accountable. I remember how it was when I was a kid. We have been organizing these meetings for almost a solid year now. We’re looking for immediate and a five-year impact for our neighborhoods,” shared former Mayor Mike Bell.

In response to the mayor’s office sending a representative and not the mayor, former Mayor Finkbeiner asked Cunningham to shared these words with the Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz. “The mayor needs to show up and show that he cares. He needs to come out of the One Government building and show his face. To the residents, if you care, you must speak up and hold people accountable from the top down at the schools, city, county, state, etc.

The coalition gathered comments and recommendations that will be shared with Mayor Kapszukiewicz and Toledo City Council members. The coalition plans to reconvene in four weeks and invites Toledo’s mayor and the city council.